Chuck Panama (1925-2018)

Few M*A*S*H fans will recognize the name Chuck Panama, the 20th Century Fox publicist who worked on the series from 1976 to 1983. He died Sunday (May 13th) at the age of 93. Panama joined the 20th Century Fox public relations department in the 1950s, where he helped publicize movies featuring stars like Elvis Presley and Jayne Mansfield, before departing the company.

As an independent PR man, he worked on projects starring Henry Fonda and Faye Dunaway, among others. He returned to Fox in 1976, this time in the TV division, where he served as publicist for TV shows like M*A*S*H, L.A. Law, and The Simpsons.

The M*A*S*H episode “Bombshells” from Season 11 likely includes a reference to Chuck Panama. In the episode, Hawkeye and Charles concoct a story about Marilyn Monroe visiting the 4077th. When Hawkeye tries to reach Monroe at the 20th Century Fox film studios, he speaks to a “Miss Panama” on the phone.

Panama retired in 1991. Obituaries can be found at Deadline Hollywood and The Hollywood Reporter. For the record, I couldn’t find a date of birth for Panama, so I had to guess. May 30th, 2018 Update: Chuck was born on February 2nd, 1925.

(Thanks to Dan.)

3 Comments

  • Craig Panama says:

    Chuck’s birthday is February 2, 1925.

  • Carrie Requist says:

    Chuck’s most visible legacy on M*A*S*H can be seen in the officer’s club. Chuck was in WWII with the 5th Army Air Corp. Although a WWII symbol has no business in a M*A*S*H unit in Korea, when Chuck joined M*A*S*H in 1976, he had the prop department create a large 5th Army Air Corps symbol and hang it in the officer’s mess. From then on, most cast pictures were taken in front of this symbol. Here is the officer’s club before Chuck joined http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/MASH.jpeg and here it is after: http://film.org.pl/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/M-A-S-H-m-a-s-h-17473536-1600-1200.jpg (notice the big 5 symbol behind Jamie Farr). The fact that only Chuck and our family really understood that made me smile everytime I wached the show.
    -Carrie Panama Requist (Chuck’s daughter)

  • RJ says:

    Craig, thanks for confirming the birthday.

    Carrie, that’s a wonderful behind-the-scenes tidbit. Thanks for sharing.

    I doubt many M*A*S*H viewers had the opportunity to interact with Chuck Panama, but one longtime fan told me Chuck was “one of the nicest, friendliest people you ever met.”

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